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A Most Ingenius Paradox

I'm with Josh, there's nothing especially "paradoxical" about President Mismanagement wanting to promote his inept National Security Advisor. It's exactly what one would expect. Meanwhile, I assume Stephen "Where's the Memo?" Hadley is not about to bring a new level of professionalism to the NSC. The silver lining here is that a neoconified State Department, a purged CIA, and the same old Pentagon ought to at least be able to agree on what America's foreign policy is. The dark cloud is that it will be terrible.

UPDATE: This post couldn't be complete without a link to David Adesnik's hilarious-in-retrospect suggestion that Bush consider appointing Richard Lugar or Richard Armitage to head up the State Department. Either would be solid choices for a conservative president interested in running a sound foreign policy. But of course we can stop right there. The issue isn't that Lugar's "personal relationship with Bush" isn't "strong enough to get him the job" the issue is that the plan for the second administration is that the now mandate-possessing Bush can crush all elements of independence and critical thought inside the administration and stock the government entirely with toadies. It's one of those don't-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry kind of moments.

UPDATE: It's shocking, really, to see things like this go down. I hear a new job is opening up in the White House Counsel's office, and this fine Marine sounds like he'd be an excellent candidate to judge by the standards employed in choosing an Attorney-General.

November 15, 2004 | Permalink


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Matt, you've registered for the Selective Service, have you not? You would make a great gunnery sergeant, methinks.

Posted by: praktike | Nov 15, 2004 11:55:14 PM

Me, I think I'll learn how to fly planes. I hear Iran's air defenses are lousy compared to Iraq's.

Bob Macmanus, are you too old to serve?

Posted by: praktike | Nov 16, 2004 12:03:53 AM

In the Navy...

Posted by: scarshapedstar | Nov 16, 2004 12:04:52 AM

It's nearly official: Tom Raum of the AP reports "Rice to replace Powell".

Posted by: David Carroll | Nov 16, 2004 12:13:48 AM

Hell I am not laughing.

Although I make a point not to predict these guys. Condi doesn't strike me as a Secretary of State for a time of World War. Could go really nasty covert instead. I agree collapse in Iraq followed by war with Iran is more likely.

Too old to serve. Well I was 1-A in 1970, but really very marginal Short, partly blind and deaf.
I probably will get air-warden duty or fold parachutes or something.

Or just get shot for things already said on blogs.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Nov 16, 2004 12:20:10 AM

Imagine the dilemma facing Bush now. He gets to chose his first cabinet. (Cheney chose the present one, of course.) But, he wants to be the smartest one at the table during cabinet meetings. Just think about that. Anyway, he can keep Rumsfeld.

Posted by: Vaughn Hopkins | Nov 16, 2004 12:25:45 AM

Matthew, if the marine shocks you you haven't been paying attention.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Nov 16, 2004 12:26:20 AM

Bob, did you know that the US is dropping leaflets on houses with pictures of Fallujah on fire that say "this could happen to your house if you cooperate with Zarqawi?" The hearts and minds ship has sailed; it's kill or be killed now.

Posted by: praktike | Nov 16, 2004 12:35:23 AM

"this could happen to your house if you cooperate with Zarqawi?"

We didn't bring in those Israeli experts for nothing. Look, praktike, I am nor responsible for much except my opinions. I wish to God I had more control. I favored the war, and honestly and sincerely and in complete humility think I could have done a better job. I never supported Bush in any way, and always considered him and his crew monsters. Monsters. But I had assumed there were real-world restraints that in reality do not seem to exist.

The middle east and arab world were and are unsustainable in their present alignment. There may be solutions other than violence but we have the President and the Party we have, and those options are not really available.

I was ashamed of my country several years ago.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Nov 16, 2004 12:58:48 AM

are you being serious?

There are two things I tell myself to reassure myself about the draft:
1) Bush would have to admit he was wrong or lying in the campaign, and he may be physically incapable of doing that.
2) They are so very willing to make national security decisions based on domestic politics. But then, he doesn't need to be re-elected, and ideology may well win out in the end.

I had been breathing a sigh a relief as my husband and all my best friends aged past 25, and now I hear talk of raising it to 34.

I will be so, so angry.

Posted by: Katherine | Nov 16, 2004 1:26:49 AM

I didn't favor the war, ever. I tried a few weeks as a reasonable liberal, went to see Ken Pollack speak, all that stuff, but it didn't stick. At a time like this you deal with the most pressing threats first, and this was so clearly not even in the top 3. (Now it's clear it was even lower than that.) I could see they were deliberately misleading people about the nuclear threat even then. I believed them about chemical and bio weapons, but
a) thought we had better get the proof all the same if we wanted the "pre-emption doctrine" to be more than "because we say so, that's why". and
b) thought that chem and kinda-crappy bio weapons were a lousy reason to go to war. Again, not the most pressing threat. More importantly, it seemed to me that between the risk of battlefield use of those weapons, the risk that Saddam would give them to terrorists if and only if he had nothing to lose, and the risk that we could not secure them after the invasion--a war would make a bio or chem attack much MORE likely.

I thought the best argument for war was the humanitarian one. I did not believe for a second that democracy would blossom like a beautiful desert flower or whatever, but I thought that odds were that the Iraqi people would be better off for our invasion in the end--that even another dictator would probably be more benign than Hussein. But I was alot more confident that New Yorkers would be worse off than that Iraqis would be better off, and yes, that does take precedence for me. Besides, it's not like you can't come up with other humanitarian interventions, military or medical, that would save many, many more lives without inflicting as many civilian casualties or fucking up the war on terror.

So I opposed it. Got a letter to the editor in the Washington Post, went to a (non-ANSWER) march and everything--for all the good that it did.

Posted by: Katherine | Nov 16, 2004 1:43:48 AM

Yes! I burst out laughing uncontrollably when I read Adesnik's risible post. Just how incompetent, corrupt, and monomaniacal does this administration have to get to make (would-be) reality-based conservatives understand? It's amazing the amount of loyalty and fawning optimism even among conservative critics. They just don't get it. The only prerequesites to be 100% certain Bush wouldn't choose a reasonable SS were: 1) not be a Bush loyalist 2) have a brain 3) be willing to use it. Reading that post was like watching a man having a rupture. Ouch!

Posted by: h | Nov 16, 2004 2:27:24 AM

As to the marine: it's bad, but it is possible to overdo the outrage here. The marines are facing booby-trapped bodies and such (violating the Geneva convention). Soldiers facing such things in Japan at the end of WWII shot a lot of surrendering combatants for similar reasons.

And shocking? Any large-scale military operation is going to involve atrocities, soldiers here and there losing control and crossing the line. Abu Ghraib went beyond that and really seems typical of this administration. But the marine yesterday? These were not civilians. Honestly, I think it says more about the insurgents they're fighting (who regularly behead civilians, shoot scores of unarmed policemen, einsatzgruppen-style, in the back of the neck, and set off bombs intended to kill civilians.) Really, we should be more concerned to find out about and minimize civilian casualties.

Posted by: eliot | Nov 16, 2004 2:40:44 AM

My personal opinion, regarding the draft, is that they'll think up something with a wrinkle or two and call it something else (like the "patriot service" act or something).
Bush supporters will be cool with it and smugly point out how Bush said there wouldn't be a "Draft" but never ruled out "patriot service".

Posted by: Michael Farris | Nov 16, 2004 2:55:34 AM

You guys are still going with the "Bush will institute the draft"? Sheesh.... I'll say this slowly so you can get it - The... Military.. Doesn't. Want. Your. Sorry. Asses. As. Draftees.

Not now or ever - you flatter yourselves WAY too much thinking that the "Marlboro man" would trust any of you to watch his back...

Lest you forget, it was the Democrats that introduced the draft bill, and the Republicans that shot it down... It was JFKerry that called for "patriot service", not G. W. Bush. The truth is out there - just open your eyes and TAKE A LOOK...

Posted by: The Colonel | Nov 16, 2004 5:14:15 AM

Yes, Colonel. They. Don't. And. Of. Course. Bush. Always. Listens. To. Advice. From. The. Military. And. Other. Experts. Who. Know. More. Than. He. Does. Why, He's. Famous. For. It.

That's Shinseki. Full name, General Eric "We Need At Least 200,000 Troops To Occupy Iraq Successfully" Shinseki, US Army (retired).

The point is not that Bush wants a draft because he thinks it will be intrinsically a good thing. I don't believe he does think it's a good thing, and he probably knows it would be unpopular. The point is that there is a real chance that his approach to foreign policy will make a draft necessary in the next four years.

I'm sure he doesn't really want another four years of record deficits, either, but he's going to get them.

Anyway, enough about the incompetence of draftee armies, OK? Conscripts did fairly well at El Alamein, Normandy, the Bulge, the Rhine, North Cape, the Imjin River and various other places around the world.

Posted by: ajay | Nov 16, 2004 5:59:47 AM

And shocking? Any large-scale military operation is going to involve atrocities, soldiers here and there losing control and crossing the line.

Yes, that's right. Atrocities in a war are not really shocking.

That's why starting a war that is not absolutely necessary is (or should be) shocking.

Posted by: abb1 | Nov 16, 2004 6:33:18 AM

Condi rocks!

And so does Negroponte!


Posted by: j.scott barnard | Nov 16, 2004 8:01:06 AM

... about the draft ... Bush would have to admit he was wrong or lying in the campaign, and he may be physically incapable of doing that.

The modern executive has a simple and convenient solution for this. It's a shrug of the shoulders and a simple quip: "Things change." This is how the machiavellian executive justifies lying.

Posted by: poputonian | Nov 16, 2004 8:23:35 AM

Bush wants to achieve total control, but what good is it going to do him? He has no troops for military adventures, no money for any new domestic programs.

Posted by: Bob H | Nov 16, 2004 9:35:11 AM

"There are two things I tell myself to reassure myself about the draft:
1) Bush would have to admit he was wrong or lying in the campaign, and he may be physically incapable of doing that"

Katherine, on October 17, Bush campaign spokespeople accused Kerry of employing "scare tactics" for saying that Bush had a plan to privatize socal security if he won the election. You could look it up.

So, while you're right that Bush won't willingly admit that he was wrong or lying during the campaign, that won't stop him from doing things he promised not to do. He just won't admit it.

Posted by: rea | Nov 16, 2004 9:41:38 AM

Eh... I'm with The Colonel. I flinch when I fire a cap gun, for crying out loud. The military would have no use for me!

At least... I hope.

My mommy wants me to be a conscientious objector, but I'm not all that conscientious, and to do that, I'd have to talk about all the ministers who told me about how war is against God's will and talk about how moved I was by watching Ghandi and all the pacifist books I read... or... something. I was, like Daniel Davies, a member of the anti-this-war-now left (though, unlike Davies, I got the whole WMD thing wrong), but I don't quite have the courage of my convictions to be a true pacifist. I admire those who do, though, I suppose.

Now I just have to hope that there's no draft or that they'd recognize how worthless I'd be. I think that the first one is probable enough, what with no one actually wanting a draft, but hoping that their opponents will have to be the ones to institute it. I don't claim any special knowledge, though.

Posted by: Julian Elson | Nov 16, 2004 9:46:39 AM

The obvious way for Bush to institute a draft would be to involve specific groups, gradually approaching general population so that people are frightened that if their group gets drafted they will get the worst deployments. People who enlist will be given their choice of deployment.
They would start with medical, move to emergency services, urban planners, construction workers, structual engineers, etc.
I do not think this will actually happen -- the draft is the third rail that (R)s will not allow Bush to touch without wholesale revolt.

Posted by: theCoach | Nov 16, 2004 10:04:03 AM

There is an interesting dynamic at work here in the second Bush term which Republicans have not experienced in a long time. President Bush does not have to worry about re-election, but the Republicans in congress are now on the hook big time. The excuses (9-11, recession, Clinton did it) will not wash next time, and they are accountable to the electorate.So, there is a little light between Bush's interests and those of the Republicans facing re-election.

Posted by: theCoach | Nov 16, 2004 10:08:14 AM

I'm continually surprised by how few atrocities we hear of. Given a random sample of the general population's diversity of garden variety sadists/bullies and sociopaths, etc, I think the armed forces do a damn good job of either filtering out the bad apples or training/disciplining/officering them.

As for the draft, I don't think we'll see one under Bush. While there's a favoritism for theory over practice in military/foreign affairs in this administration (e.g. Rumsfeld), there's a lot of reality-based policy on the domestic political front (e.g. Rove). The administration will scale back its ambitions in Iraq before it institutes a draft at home.

Posted by: dubious | Nov 16, 2004 10:56:25 AM

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